Fatalities involving confined spaces & failing to provide fall protection
Recent OSHA Enforcement Cases
Texas company cited after fatality
OSHA has cited Liquid Environmental Solutions of Texas LLC for workplace safety hazards following an employee fatality at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in April 2019. The company faces $301,188 in fines.
The employee suffered asphyxiation while inside a manhole access space that lacked adequate oxygen, and a means to escape. OSHA determined that the company - which provides vacuum trucks to empty the airport’s grease traps - lacked proper procedures, training and equipment for accessing the permit-required confined space.
“This tragedy could have been prevented if the company had followed proper safety procedures, such as air testing, communication systems and non-entry retrieval devices for employee rescue situations,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, Loren Sweatt.
“Companies are legally required to test and monitor confined spaces for oxygen content before and during entry,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Eric Harbin.
OSHA’s Confined Spaces page includes a fact sheet on Procedures for Atmospheric Testing in Confined Spaces, a Confined Spaces Advisor, and a booklet on permit-required confined spaces.
Two Florida roofing companies cited for exposing employees to fall and other hazards
OSHA has cited two Florida commercial and residential roofing companies for exposing employees to struck-by and fall hazards at a Greenacres, Florida, worksite. The companies face a combined $83,348 in penalties.
OSHA cited Cruz Enterprises & Construction LLC - based in Dover, Florida - and Intex Builders LLC - based in Tampa, Florida - for willfully allowing employees to perform roofing activities without conventional fall protection. OSHA also cited Intex Builders for allowing employees to operate a powered industrial truck without being trained or certified, and exposing employees to struck-by hazards.
"Assuring a safe workplace is the law," said OSHA Area Director Condell Eastmond, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "Employers are legally obligated to comply with safety standards to ensure that workers are protected from hazards that can cause serious injuries."
OSHA's Powered Industrial Trucks eTool Quickcard provides information on how to prevent collisions, falls, tip-overs, and struck-by incidents.
Athens, Georgia Dollar Tree Store cited for exposing, employees to safety hazards
OSHA has cited national discount retailer Dollar Tree Stores Inc. for exposing employees to safety hazards at its store on Atlanta Highway in Athens, Georgia. The company faces $125,026 in proposed penalties.
OSHA cited the company for exposing employees to struck-by, trip and fall hazards by failing to keep passageways and walking surfaces in a clean, orderly and sanitary condition. OSHA found unsafely stacked cases of merchandise and blocked emergency exits, and cited Dollar Tree for not maintaining access to portable fire extinguishers.
"These hazardous conditions unnecessarily exposed employees to potentially life-threatening injury," said OSHA Area Director William Fulcher, in Atlanta-East. "There is no reason why the employees in this store should have been subjected to the same hazards previously identified and cited at other Dollar Tree locations."
Dollar Tree Stores has a long history of serious and repeated violations related to unsafe stacking of merchandise and blocked exits. Since 2015, OSHA has cited the Chesapeake, Virginia-based company for similar violations at locations in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Wisconsin, Idaho, Texas, New York, and Rhode Island.
OSHA provides resources on safe working surfaces and exit route requirements.
Missouri food flavoring manufacturer cited for workplace safety violations after fatality
OSHA has cited Kerry Inc. for failing to provide fall protection to employees working in the company’s facility in Greenville, Missouri. The food flavoring company faces $223,525 in penalties for one willful and eight serious safety violations.
An employee fatally fell while trying to extinguish a fire at the plant. After an April 2019 inspection, OSHA determined that the company failed to designate, train and educate a fire brigade properly on how to respond to such emergencies; evaluate hazards to determine the need for personal protective equipment; provide approved self-contained breathing apparatus; complete required safety data sheets; and repair damaged parts. OSHA has placed the company in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
"This preventable tragedy should remind all employers of their obligation to evaluate their training programs and safety procedures continually, and to provide refresher training to ensure that workers are prepared for potential emergencies,” said OSHA St. Louis Area Director Bill McDonald.
OSHA offers compliance assistance resources on preventing falls, personal protective equipment, and respiratory protection.
Petroleum refiner and contractor cited after fatality at Alabama facility
OSHA has cited Turner Specialty Services LLC and Hunt Refining Co. for safety violations after an employee suffered a fatal injury at a refining facility in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The two companies collectively face $106,080 in penalties.
The employee asphyxiated when he lost air supply while working in a confined space. OSHA cited Turner Specialty Services LLC – an industrial contractor – for failing to ensure personnel outside the permit-required confined space were capable of providing effective rescue. OSHA also cited the contractor for allowing an employee to enter the permit-required confined space with insufficient lighting equipment, and for assigning members of the rescue team other duties that prevented them from responding to an emergency event.
OSHA cited Turner Specialty Services LLC and Hunt Refining Co. – a petroleum refiner –for failing to ensure that the confined space entry permits identified all hazards of the space, and document that all the steps required to ensure the employee’s safety in a confined space were completed. OSHA also cited Hunt Refining Co. for failing to ensure, through periodic evaluations, that Turner Specialty Services fulfilled their obligations as specified in the Process Safety Management standard.
"Employers should never allow workers to enter a space without properly evaluating the hazards and following required safety standards associated with entry,” said OSHA Area Director Ramona Morris, in Birmingham, Alabama.